Captain George Y. Dayton
Captain George Y. Dayton is a typical vessel master, as he had been on the water nearly all his life. He is a sturdily-built man, with all the physical and mental qualifications necessary in one battling with the waves, especially in times of danger. His calling in life came to him naturally, as his father was a sailor also, and for several years master of flatboats on the Mississippi river.
Captain Dayton is a son of John Thomas and Elizabeth (Young) Dayton, and was born at Conneaut, Ohio, July 15, 1849. His paternal grandfather was a Frenchman, and the maternal grandparents were Southern planters. Mrs. Dayton (the mother) died in 1887. There were two children, George Y. and a daughter, Fanny, who died when one year old. Because of the death of his father when he was quite young, our subject left home in his ninth year and located at Toledo, where he was engaged for about five years on fishing, lumber and sand scows in that vicinity and to Port Huron. When thirteen he began his career on the lakes by shipping out of Toledo as boy on the schooner Seabird, under Captain Miner, in the lumber trade to Bay City. In August of that season he left her to go as watchman for the rest of the season in the propeller Neptune. Until the middle of the summer of 1863 he was watchman in the propeller Missouri, when he was promoted to wheelsman, remaining in the berth until the close of the season of 1864. In 1865 he was wheelsman of the propeller Olean; in 1866 he shipped before the mast on the schooner Ashtabula, continuing in that berth until about the middle of the season of 1867, when he was promoted to second mate, finishing the season as such. The Ashtabula was sailed by Capt. Michael Fitzgerald, who was as a father to Captain Dayton. In 1868 our subject went before the mast on the schooner Wyandotte, and in 1869 on the schooner Jane Bell, with Captain Harrison.
In 1870 Captain Dayton entered the government service as able seaman under Capt. George Scott in the lighthouse supply schooner Belle Stevens. He was two seasons on the Stevens, and then transferred to the Warrington, in the same service, for one season, under the same captain and in second mate's berth. In 1874 Captain Dayton began sailing the steamer Seneca, afterward the H. J. Webb, of which he was also owner, remaining with her until December, 1877, when she was burned in the Bloody Run slip in Detroit river, taking fire from sparks from a planing-mill, and becoming a total loss. During the seasons of 1878-79 Captain Dayton was on the tug Mayflower, on the Detroit river, part of the time as wheelsman and the remainder as mate until August of the latter year, when he became master of the tug Gem, in which he closed the season. For the season of 1880 he was master of the tug H. P. Clinton until June, finishing the season as master of the River Queen. The next two seasons he was master on the passenger propeller Northern Belle, between Cheboygan, Indian river, Mullet Lake and Petoskey; in 1883 he was pilot from Windsor, Canada, to Port Arthur, Lake Superior, stopping at Michimicoten River, Herring Bay, Red Sucker Cove, Big Peak Bay, Nipigon River, Silver Island and other intermediate ports on Lake Superior in the steamers Africa, Armenia, Miles, Tilla and Kincardine, Canadian boats in the employ or under charter of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, during its construction. During the seasons of 1884-85-86 he was second respectively, of the passenger steamer Nyack (sailed by Captain Shannon, also a dear friend of Captain Dayton) and mate of the William A. Haskell and Iron Duke. However, he was in the latter berth only until August of 1886, finishing the season as master of the tug Gladiator, a lake tug plying between Buffalo, Chicago and Bay City.
Until the fall of 1889 Captain Dayton was master of the schooner Consueio, and closed the season as mate of the propeller Clyde, of the Lehigh Valley line, sailed by Captain Condon, whom our subject respected as much as he would his own father. In 1888 he was mate of the Oceanica, also under Captain Condon, and master of the Fred Mercur during 1889-90. During the season of 1891 he was master of the propeller Cumberland, owned by J. C. Gilchrist, of Cleveland, and for that of 1892 he acted as mate of the Massaba part of the time, following with one trip as master of the Italia, and closing the season as master of the Wocoken. Lake men will doubtless recall that 1892 was the season when the steamer Western Reserve became a wreck and a total loss on August 27, in a fearful gale on Lake Superior which compelled vessels of all descriptions to turn back and seek shelter. It was during that gale that Captain Dayton was making the trip in the Italia above mentioned; he did not put back, but went on under the lee of the north shore and pursued his course to Duluth, arriving only four hours behind time. In the spring of 1893 he was master of the tug C. E. Benham long enough to take her from Cleveland to Marquette and deliver her to the owners; he finished that season as mate of the propeller John B. Lyon. During the seasons of 1894-95-96 he was mate of the Iron King, D. W. Arnold, and Samuel Marshall, the last two vessels being in the lumber trade. Captain Dayton is a member of the Ship Masters Association and carries Pennant No. 597; is also a member of the Catholic Mutual Benevolent Association.
Our subject was first married in Ottawa, Canada, in 1873, to Miss Mary Dunn, and by her had one daughter, Mary Elizabeth, who is the wife of Ralph C. Blodgett, son of Capt. C. C. Blodgett, a vessel owner of fifty years' standing. Mrs. Dayton died March 12, 1885, after which Captain Dayton placed his daughter in a convent, where she was educated. His second marriage, November 25, 1891, was to Miss Margaret Emma Kale, whom he met in Detroit and wedded in Cleveland, Ohio. They reside at No. 1260 West Avenue, Buffalo.
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This version of Volume II is based, with permission, on the work of the great volunteers at the Marine Captains Biographies site. To them goes the credit for reorganizing the content into some coherent order. The biographies in the original volume are in essentially random order.
Some of the transcription work was also done by Brendon Baillod, who maintains an excellent guide to Great Lakes Shipwreck Research.